He’s out

The enigma, the maverick,
For years living amongst us
One of us, with us,
Cheery hellos
An urbanite bon-viveur;
Friend.
Stories of distant lands,
Different worlds –
Of legends, lattes and luz
Of adventure, treasure, discovery;
Pushing, challenging, creating –
Procreating.
One of us, with us –
All a deception, a mask
Lie upon lie
Some of us suspected
Some wary…
Lie upon lie
With us, to us
Betrayal.
Many enjoyed the roller coaster
The ride on the tiger’s back;
Armed with stories and craft and guile
Seeking friendship
Seeking money.
Redress?
For the long arm tapped his shoulder –
A two year vacation –
Food, bed, togs and tags
All freely provided
At our expense.

He’s out.
Amongst us, 
Liking us,
But one of us?
With us?
 

You’d think.

You’d think
That when you know the time
When it leaves, the train
You’d think
That maybe
You’d be ready
You know?
Pack up
Stop gassing
Leave the meeting
But no –
You think
You’re too important
Too critical
To leave
On time.
So now, we watch
And snigger
As you
Totteringly wobble
Click clack
Swayingly sashay
On your high heels
Twisting ankles
Turning heads
Clasping hands
Macchiato in the one
Mulberry in the other
Smart phone
Unsmartly wedged
Under diamanté ear studs
You’d think
You’d care.
You’d think.

Sly Old Sun

Glazed eyes with tiredness
Another morning, up before
Any right-thinking folk should be;
Slowly rising,
Like the sly old sun
Nefariously peeking
Over the distant hedge
Pulling aside net curtains
Spying, shiftily –
Like that Mrs Scofield
Our dinner lady, crotchety
And her husband who
Really,
We hoped was dead –
Now its piercing stare
Advances
Like the salty swash over
Lustrous shingle –
She had that, did Scofield
Always scratching –
Accentuating forms
Under its low gaze
Crystalline puddles, froze,
The veins of leaves,  protrude,
Like her temples
When she barked at us
Most mornings.

Outsourced Eyes

At this hour,
Beneath the stony rictus gaze
Of Mr. Stephenson, the founder here,
This station approach –
Euston’s grand lobby –
Is laid bare with concrete carpet tiles,
Gauzy vanes and barbs
Of jettisoned pigeon feathers
Trod in chuddy,
Fuchsia pink fag butts –
Is all a furore; the hurly-burly
Of bodily momentum –
A haphazard helter skelter
Randomly rushing to toil;
Skittering, zag-ziggingness
Thither, hither, hubbub
Close-calls, near misses
Auto-pilot adjustments
Avoiding gazes, muttered pardons
Wide-loads, pushed out elbows
Dropped shoulders, in mock attack
Shibuya Crossing;
Times Square;
Oxford Circus;
Purposed busyness.

One set of eyes is blind to it all;
Feeling only, the light brushing
Of arm against coat;
Feeling only, the soft nudge
Of meaningless apologies;
Feeling only, the paper cut edges
Of leaves in the wind on dry skin –
Arm outstretched,
Outsourced eyes steer him
Surely, truly, forward –
A bollard missed;
A tourist’s brolly, evaded;
Unfalteringly forward –
With calm, with trust,
Doggedly forward –
Towards the bright light
Of the rising sun over the city,
And a thousand scents, ignored.

Location, Location.

Down in the cutting,
The 7 o’clock fug of fumes lies
Duvet soft, a drifting blanket;
Up the sides,
Birches and hornbeams –
Cheap trees of the Council –
Rise scrubbily; bark-smeered
With oily, bletchy fingers
Seemingly, scratty yet proud,
Tall and whippy too –
Shooting up, drunk on
Drugs of digger-turned earth
And airborne vits –
Sarny crusts; pasty bits,
Bruised bananas, apple pips.

At this hour, tired eyes
Steer tyred wheels;
Eyeing greedily,
Viscerally dazed imaginings
Of half-grabbed croissants,
Or Tommy-Tippy coffee.
Engines, nose to tail, breathe raspily
Diaphragmatically deep on methane
And obnoxiously noxious NOx.

High up though,
Here, in this unprepossessing roost,
Crows and rooks perch precariously
And sway –
Not in isolation
But in metropoli…
Squabbling, bustling, bursting
Nests stacked on nests,
Ribbon development
Along branch, stem and twig;
Three-story town houses,
Bijou flats in the beeches up front
Back to backs at the back –
Twiggily and twittly chattering –
Social clubs; staycations,
Meat raffles, morning fêtes –
Location, location, location.

Below the fumes,
Below the grass,
Below Kit-Kat shards
And asthma canisters –
The grumbling rumbles,
The resonant roars,
The thrumming quakes,
Are a call to arms
Rain! Shout the worms
Rain! Time to move
Rain! Time to breathe
Up! Up! Up!

And down come the birds –
Down in waves –
Through fugs of fumes, rasping motors,
Down like a duvet, deadly drifting –
To guzzle and gobble and gorge –
Among the sarny crusts and pasty bits,
Bruised bananas and apple pips.

Double Helix

Crunching onto rime-hatted ground
Crackling underfoot, sound waves
Rippling through me, cold
Reverberating in my ear drums –
Sound waves; a winter susurration
Glancing up –
A thousand whispering wings
Soughing as the wind,
The scything virgule
Of October’s leaf-fall harvest.
A writhing, gyring vortex:
Helix, double helix, helix…
A murmuring murmuration
A living hive of DNA
Spinning, cavorting, whipping
In eddies and counter-currents
Stable yet unstable
Chaotic yet ordered
Tribal yet singular –
Away then, over the ice-tipped field
In a playful, whooping migration
Before dissolving as vapour
Will-o-the-wispish, dreamlike
Ethereal, lost
Into the Needwood
And the tree-spiked horizon.

The Beer Tribe

He, louchely lounging,
Sweltering heat; sweltering beards
Loose-hanging camo vests,
Close-cut leggings, thigh slashed –
Beany hat, woolily cool,
Arms braided with tatts, Pictish hero…
Or urban warrior?
She, pierced beyond Brosnan,
Flip-flops in winter,
Hair dyed in Nu-Age Violet
Tied back in a tie-dyed sling,
Fresh from slaying Goliath
Yet this bar lives; pulses
To rhythms of the Veldt –
And the beers, their menagerie:
Little Creatures, Queen of the Night,
Raging Bitch, Flying Dog,
Moose Fang, Holy Cowbell,
And the poor, rag-tag Dead Pony
Rule the roost here.
And you’re not welcome:
Sly looks, knowing grins quickly concealed.
You, with your shaved chin and slim cut jeans –
You, with short-sleeved shirt and smart sneakers –
Cost a pretty penny but not a penny well spent
In their eyes.
Their eyes betray condescension
Their eyes are only
For the ‘in’ crowd, the beer crowd –
Their eyes lap up uncrafted craftiness;
A beacon of their anti-individualism.
Their eyes betray them
Sucking up; hoovering up
Their unspoken conformity.

Uprooted

When the storm cut through, it cut;
Not a samurai-sharp, clean, incisive cut –
But blunt, deep, savage – butcher’s cuts
Cleaving and sawing, to and fro
Until the job was done.
It raced, the wind. It raced and grabbed.
Laughing, it grappled the trees –
Like a fatigued father, numb through insolence
Shaking a child; but no remorse – just brutish joy.
It took without mercy; pitilessly and persistently;
Saplings, vibrant with the life of warming days, slapped down.
Adolescents, lippy with age, put in their place;
And the wise old ones, their wisdom scattered.
Uprooted, lost.
And we pick up the pieces now.
The old wall, tumbled, can be repaired.
The car, rippled with dents, ironed out.
The windbreak of youthful poplars, replanted.
But the lament of the wild runs deeper –
Baleful calls; grey-eyed mournfulness
Families destroyed,
And lives
Uprooted.

Uprooted

Mating calls

The shrill penetrating attack of a Greenfinch
Insistent, urgent, agitated – calls for a lost love up above.
In the hedgerow, the calmer, bass, wooing
Chitter-chat of a love-struck Great Tit.
Away, under a straggly drooping laurel,
The guttural, dirty laughter of flirting pheasants;
And in the distance, the boorish, drone
Of a chainsaw; tediously barking the mating call
Of extinction.

Double decker

The double decker, modest carmine and tuscan sun
thirty hands high, or more,
portholes stretching lengthways,
the captain steering below.

A hulk, a tub, of excitement and wonder,
a bus, as conjured in the innocent mind of youth –
travel, wondrous freedom, adventure –
a ship no doubt, but not any old ship, not even one.

A skiff, reaching and stretching,
beetling across a choppy river mouth,
sails flapping to catch the breeze.

That sickening sway side to side,
a fishing boat leaving the shelter of a sea wall,
slapped by cross-currents.

The heave, this trawler of humans; too high
yet outwardly stable, rocking
between the billows on a tarmac sea.

Yawing, with every little road bump;
no smoothness, no guile,
a gale, blowing Force 9 to 10.

Racing, no keel, no spinnaker,
yet on this two-up road, the thrumming diesel
coughs and whines, leaning into bends, braggishly.

Until we arrive at safely at port
like an ice-breaker, pushing through flotsam and jetsam
crisp packets to port, heeled-in chuddy to starboard.